Thursday, March 27, 2008

Quick Notes: Andy's Diner, Mercer Island Schools, Graffiti

Andy's Diner in Sodo to Reopen? -- A Seattle Times blogger reports that Sodo's major landowner, Henry Liebman, wants to reopen Andy's Diner, which sits on a 10-acre parcel that he owns. About the restaurant site, the developer said: "The building is a mess, but not beyond repair... The bums and cats have been evicted from under the railroad cars, so that's progress." If you'd like to help keep those, um, wheels of progress turning, e-mail the Times blogger at -- she wants to try to hook a restaurateur up with Liebman on this.

Mercer Island Accepting Outside Students -- This one's from a few days ago, but it's an interesting story about how Mercer Island is taking kids from other districts. It quotes a South Seattle mom who can no longer afford to send her kids to private school but wants to avoid South Seattle's public schools: "She worried that the public schools in her South Seattle neighborhood were overwhelmed with high-needs students. As many as 80 percent of the students in her neighborhood schools come from low-income families, and almost 40 percent are learning English." As a South Seattle mom-to-be, I understand her concerns. I want my child to have all the educational opportunities that I did: AP classes in every subject all the way up through calculus, the choice of band or orchestra, multiple foreign languages to choose from, Academic Decathlon, honor society, up-to-date textbooks, mock trial, political/environmental clubs, field trips, programming classes, a million different sports teams -- the works. I went to (prosperous) public schools, and I always felt challenged in every subject -- I felt they'd let me race as fast academically as I wanted to, and they would help me every step of the way. Now that we have a baby on the way, some of my friends are advising me to sell my house and move north. I don't know what we're going to do.

Graffiti at the Christian Restoration Center -- Cleanup is going to happen soon -- they're just waiting for good weather.


litlnemo said...

I have a feeling a lot of Beacon Hill parents will send their kids to Mercer Island now. It's not a terribly inconvenient commute, compared to some.

LM said...

Please don't sell your house and move north- at least not for awhile- maybe move when the little one is 5 or 6

JvA said...

Yeah, I still have some time to worry about it.

uppergeorgetowner said...

What about staying in the South End, in the district and getting involved? There are many good elementary schools in the south end - Beacon Elementary, Maple, Kimball, Orca, The New School, are all good and very diverse. Middle school is harder, but there are good alternative middle school choices which are all city draws. If everyone runs off, how does anything get better?

Mercer Island - Kiss my a**. They've spent half a century trying to keep South End people out. And now they want our kids to go to school there? Right.

ColumbiaCityDad said...

I agree with uppergeorgetowner (except, perhaps, for the kiss my a** part) -- there are some great choices among public elementary schools in the south-end.

I'll admit that the same thoughts that you're entertaining went through my head when my kids were conceived/born. We had settled in C-City a few years previous and were unsure about the school situation. However, a few years have passed and I can state that we're completely happy with the options available to us in the public schools.

Our oldest is currently in his first year in the Montessori preschool program at Graham Hill. We've found GH to be a terrific school, with a very active PTA that supports and funds plenty of enrichment programs. We especially value the extraordinary diversity of cultures that this school encompasses. To get a sense of the school, please check out the in-progress interactive website at You could also pick up a copy of this week's Beacon Hill News & South District Journal to see a wonderful article (not yet available online) on the school's partnership with the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

We also have friends and neighbors who attend Orca, which is a program that I've heard nothing but raves about. It recently became a K-8 school, which makes it a good option if you are concerned about the middle school situation.

Beacon (International) Elementary is another interesting option in the area which is adding full Spanish and Mandarin immersion starting this fall, modeled after the much-loved John Stanford School in Wallingford.

I'll admit I continue to have some trepidation about the quality of the local middle schools (Asa Mercer and Aki Kurose), but that step is still a ways away for us. I also believe that these schools are improving. I've spoken to several neighbors who are happy with Mercer (particularly it's AP program). Meanwhile, Aki Kurose is part of the focus (along with Cleveland and Rainier Beach High Schools) of the district's "Southeast Initiative" which is providing additional focus and funding to address achievement gaps in these facilities.

In short, I would encourage you to stay here and support the growth of our local neighborhood schools.

PM said...

I agree with what everyone else has said about staying in the district and in the South End schools. A lot of the elementary schools are pretty decent. Heck, one of my only regrets about moving away from Beacon Hill is that Maple would be a great school for our daughter. (The ones in East Ballard are pretty good, too, though.)

If we were two blocks further west, we'd probably be staying and making the best of it.

(And as my Dad, who taught in public schools for years, including in Seattle in the 1970s, keeps reminding me, parental involvement is more of a predictor of school success than anything else, something he saw at "good" schools as well as "bad" ones.)

steve said...

I've got an 18-mo old and another on the way, and we're constantly having the same discussions around our house. I'm not convinced the Seattle School District is reparable within the time it'll take for my kids to reach school age. And although I've heard similar great things about several of the previously mentioned elementary schools, the middle and high schools are terrible, and I don't want to have my kids change schools in middle school starting in some other district where they won't know anyone. The new superintendent has some good goals but I've heard from teachers she's not all that, plus her plan for improving the district is on something like a 20-yr time line. And you can bet they'll be improving the north end schools first. I wouldn't hesitate to send my kids to MI schools--they have a great reputation and are very well funded. But I'm not too keen on the commute, and sure can't afford to move there. Parental involvement will help, but momentum needs to be built now to get Asa Mercer or Aki Kurose to an acceptable level by the time my kids are old enough, and I just don't see it happening. We'll be shopping to move to another district in the next few years.

Anonymous said...

I want to join the chorus of support for south Seattle schools. My son is currently at Maple and he's very happy there -- and my husband and I are very happy with the school as well. As others have also said, I know families with children at Beacon, Kimble, Graham Hill, Orca, and the New school --and everyone is happy with their choice. I looked at most of these schools and I think I could have been happy sending my child to any. Yes, the middle and high schools aren't on par with the north end schools, but I'm going to still consider them when the time comes.